Easy, Nutrient-Packed Summer “Dinner” – plus one of my favorite smoothie recipes

Easy Summer _Dinner_

Summer is in full swing at our house.  My teacher husband has finished almost all of his summer work, and we are loving having him home with us!  Our days are full of sun, water, playgrounds, and sidewalk chalk.  We still get in a few household chores here and there, but we’re mostly in the business of making memories right now.  That doesn’t leave a lot of time for me to make dinner.

Okay, let me rephrase.  I hate making dinner, and this is my current excuse to get out of it as much as possible.

Even though I don’t like to cook, I dislike overspending on food even more, so instead of going out or ordering in, we have to get a little creative.  Or lazy.  But I like the word “creative” better.

We drink smoothies year-round at our house, but we make them even more during the summer.  They are a creative and yummy way to get veggies, fruit, protein, and all kinds of healthy and yummy things into our kids, and ourselves, without much effort.  We love to pack them full of things we wouldn’t normally eat, and mask it with the flavor of berries.

Often times, our summer “dinner” will consist of a nice big smoothie, a cheese stick, and a handful of pretzels.  Those last two items can be whatever other snacky items you have on hand that you can convince yourself have some kind of nutritional value at all.  It’s summer.  Rules are flexible.  The kids are happy that dinner completely consists of “special treats,” and I’m happy because dinner took me all of 5 minutes to make.  Plus, they can keep on playing outside and graze.  We’re all out there together, so it still counts as valuable family time!

Here is one of my favorite summer smoothies to make.  It’s yummy, and full of healthy things like protein, fiber, omega-3, calcium, magnesium, potassium, healthy fats, and antioxidants.  This easy drink really is a filling meal that packs an awesome immune-boosting punch!  We made this yesterday.  It was perfect timing, because we had extra watermelon and a banana that both needed to be used up fast.

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Watermelon Blueberry Smoothie Recipe

2 cups watermelon
1 cup frozen blueberries
3 cups fresh spinach
½ cup plain yogurt
½ avocado
1 banana
2 tablespoons chia seeds

Throw it all in your blender, and blend until smooth!  No need to add any more liquid – the watermelon will take care of that!

This recipe filled up our whole blender, but ended up only making about 3 ½ cups of drink.  That sounds weird, looking at the amount of ingredients above.  But I promise, it did.  I could have packed my spinach cups tighter, but then I’m not sure if it would have all fit in there!

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If you don’t like something in it, that’s okay – just omit it, or switch it out with something else.  Before you decide omit it, though, maybe you should just try it.  You may not even notice it’s in there!  You can also add in other items too.  That’s one of my favorite things about smoothies – you can just throw in whatever you have around the house, and it ends up tasting awesome (almost) every time.  Some of our other go-to smoothie items are: strawberries, peaches, mango, carrots, broccoli, kale, flax seed, greek yogurt, and orange juice.  I have friends who put all kinds of weird things in smoothies – like cucumber and cilantro.  I haven’t branched out into that arena yet.  But who knows – I might sometime!  For now, I’m excited to be getting so many healthy things in my body without having to taste it.

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What is one of YOUR favorite smoothie recipes?

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Saying “No” to One of My Greatest Passions

Saying _ _ to one of my greatest passions

Many of you may not know this, but I love to sing.  I love to get lost in music, to hear a perfect harmony and belt it out.  Singing with people who get the same joy out of the music is even better.  But it’s more than singing – where my real passion lies is in leading people into worshipping Jesus.  It gets my heart pounding.  To be in a group of talented musicians, creatively putting together a set that we have all worked hard on, and then letting go and helping a room full of people forget their surroundings and just worship God together – that is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced.

Growing up, my Mom always sang in the choir at church.  I remember her putting on cassette tapes of Christmas music and practicing her alto harmonies over, and over, and over… I hated it.  It was so irritating to me to hear the same thing over and over again!  But it served me well.  Because of her, my brain could pick out those harmonies so naturally as I began my own vocal journey in high school.  I helped start a student-led high school band in my youth group at church.  We played sets every week, and even played at a couple local community events.  It was there I learned to lead, recover from mistakes, and think on my feet.  I messed up a lot, but it was a safe place to grow.  I learned new instruments and began writing my own music.

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As I got older, I found my spot on a regular team at our church.  I loved being a part of that group.  I’m sure I was totally unqualified.  The talent around me was amazing.  It was so cool to watch them, and so neat to be a part of growing together with them.

Then at one point, though, I felt my attitudes and desires shifting.  There were some changes going on in our church, so that was definitely part of it.  During that time, I also got pregnant with our first baby.  I knew I shouldn’t have a bad attitude while on stage, and babies are a good excuse out of anything, so I stepped down.  That was 6 years ago, and I basically haven’t stepped back up since then.

My attitudes healed and so did our church, although neither one is ever an easy or short road.  I’ve been on stage a couple times since then, but even when I’m asked to stay, I’ve always pulled away.  It’s just not time yet.  For awhile, I couldn’t wait to get back up there.  But I’ve found a little more patience and contentment in my old(er) age.  I have so many important roles to play right now.  I am Mommy to 3 awesome kiddos.  What I thought was just an “excuse,” in the beginning, actually was a real turning point!  I would never change that for the world, but it’s true that I can’t commit to anything unless that thing lets me have 3 kids trailing along at all times.  That gets me in to a lot of library storytimes, but not a lot of worship teams.

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But you know what?  I am TOTALLY okay with that.  If it was the right thing, I know I could make it work.  I have a great husband, and a great family in town, who would help make it work.  But right now, I’m confident that my role is not to lead worship on stage.  Maybe it’s just to lead worship in the crowd.  That really is a thing.  To see people you know and love let go a little and fully engage with singing truth to and about our Savior?  That is something that has helped and encouraged me many times over the years.  So I’m okay if that is my worship leading role right now.  Truly, I’m okay if that is my worship leading role forever.

You just CAN’T do it all.  There are different seasons for everything, and you just cannot do them all at one time.  And you shouldn’t exhaust yourself trying to make them all happen at the same time, because then you won’t enjoy any of them!!  So instead of wishing things were like “the good ole days” or wishing time would just move faster so you can get to the next step, slow down.  Take a moment to list out all the GOOD things about where you are right.now.  Enjoy this time.  Be thankful for the past, and be hopeful about the future.  But always remember to Be where you are.  And know that sometimes, it’s OK (and even better) to say “No” to one of your greatest passions.  Because it doesn’t have to be your only one!

Here’s to modifying life, and loving it.

What is something YOU love about your life right now?

 

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Confession: I hate bathtime! …here’s how I make it more bearable

Confession_ I Hate Bathtime

I literally don’t remember the last time my kids had a bath.  No, I don’t mean in the sappy “they take showers now, they’re growing up so fast” kind of way.  I mean, I don’t bathe them as often as is socially expected.  I’m going to go ahead and attribute part of this to the fact that my memory is terrible.  Maybe I have bathed them more often, but I just forgot.  That’s possible, right?  It makes me feel better, so we’ll just say it is.  Just yesterday, we left the house for a long outing, and I forgot to pack lunch for everyone.  My daughter said, “It’s okay, Mommy.  You can’t remember things.  I’m the rememberer of the family.  I’ll remember for you next time.”  She’s so sweet to accommodate for my handicap.

But I’m sure some of the fault lies with me.  I avoid bath time with any excuse I can think of.

They swam today; that counts, right?

We didn’t really do anything; they couldn’t have gotten that dirty.

I wiped their hands and faces off a million times each today – that’s even better than a bath.

Honey, you sprayed them with the hose when you watered the plants, right?  That’s good enough.

A little dirt is good for them.  Strengthens the immune system.  I’d be doing them a disservice to bathe them.

I’m just SOOO tired.  I’ll do it tomorrow.  (Wait, did I say that yesterday?)

Have you ever tried to bathe 3 young children?  It’s exhausting!  2 of them are fighting over who gets to be in the front.  All of them are fighting over who has more bubbles.  The youngest is throwing wet toys across the room.  There is so much water being flung in the air, you would think the sprinklers had come on.  Heaven forbid I try to wash someone’s hair – I might as well have cut off their arm.  So much chaos can come from a little one having water poured over their head.  Mommy has full-blown betrayed them.  Yet, somehow this little one has no problem dumping cup over cup of water over their own head, ensuing in giggles galore.

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Even if it does turn out to be a pleasantly calm experience, however, there is still the task of drying and dressing 3 little people.  It’s a true exercise in patience and endurance, and I can’t say I always pass this test with flying colors.

In almost 6 years of bathing my babies, though, I’ve come up with a few strategies that make bath time a little more pleasant for us.  Hopefully they can help you too!

  1. Bathe them in the middle of the day.

This might sound crazy, but it has been almost life-changing for us.  You have more patience and energy in the middle of the day.  They aren’t so cranky and tired.  It gives them something fun to do, while you might even get a little down time.  (Please don’t leave the room.  But reading a book while sitting in the same room is not against the rules.)  Bonus points if you get it done right before nap time – somehow, baths wear them out like crazy!  Are you thinking middle-of-the-day baths don’t make much sense if they’re just going to get dirty again later in the day?  Who cares?  You’d probably agree it’s better than the alternative of only getting a bath in once every 2 weeks.  (I’m not saying I’ve waited that long…but I’m not saying I haven’t.)

  1. You don’t always have to wash them.

Let yourself off the hook and don’t wash their hair every time.  It’s not getting oily like ours yet anyway, so no one will notice (trust me!).  Throw in some bubble bath and call it getting clean.  It’s better than no bath at all, and even their fingernails will look clean afterwards – but you didn’t have to do a thing to wipe them down.

  1. Use a shower hat/splash guard

These things can be awesome.  They keep water out of your child’s eyes without you having to twist like a contortionist to make them comfortable.  Just put the hat on and pour the water over their heads.  It’s beautiful.  And mine was only like $2 on Amazon.  The only downside to these is that some kids just won’t keep them on.  During some stages, my kids wouldn’t keep anything on their heads, and couldn’t make the connection that it was helping them avoid a traumatic experience for both of us.  I think if I would have started using it at a younger age, they may have gotten used to it and not fought it so much.

 

Here’s to modifying the norm and making a happier bath time for us all!!

 

What are YOUR best tips for a happier bath time?

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Gym Memberships Are a Waste of Money (and other fitness lies I used to believe)

 

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I am a budgeter.  I haven’t always been a saver, but marriage totally changed me, and now I love the game of trying to see how much money I can save.  I have a math degree and a business degree, and I love playing with numbers.  I can happily get lost in spreadsheets for hours.  I know, I’m a total nerd.  But don’t quit on me yet!  You just have to know that I don’t like to spend money on unnecessary things.  And gym memberships are COMPLETELY unnecessary….right?

I mean, there are tons of free workout videos on YouTube.  Do you enjoy yoga, tae bo, pilates, or even Zumba?  I can rent just about any kind of workout DVD from the library for free.  I have two legs of my own, that can run wherever they want, whenever they want.  I even had a treadmill at home, so I could run or walk when the weather was bad.  Who needs a gym?!   They are expensive and don’t offer anything I can’t find for free by myself, thank you very much.

There was only one tiny problem.  I NEVER did any of those things by myself.  I would finish one DVD session (maybe…or maybe I wouldn’t finish, since no one was stopping me from quitting, and I was already really tired anyway), and then never use it again.  I would try to run, but then quit after feeling some knee pain, or maybe just because it was hard.  But who needs to workout that hard, anyway?  I’m not training for anything, and I have kids to chase every day!  “My kids are my cardio!”  I used to be confused by the question on the form at the doctor’s office that asked if I exercised regularly.  Surely no one normal actually does that, right?  Carrying laundry baskets up and down stairs must count, so “Yes.”

I’m not exactly sure how anyone twisted my arm enough to actually try going to the gym.  My crazy sister-in-law said she goes to classes at the gym sometimes and loves it, but she is a do-er.  I’m more of a chill-at-home-er.  Pack up all the kids, put on spandex, and make a fool out of myself in front of a bunch of strangers, all while I’m not allowed to quit because there is an instructor in the room?  No, thanks.  BUT, she had a guest pass.  A FREE one.  And since I love free, and I love my sister-in-law, and I honestly wasn’t getting anywhere fast on my own, I decided to try it.

Can you guess what happened?  I fell in LOVE.  I mean, head over heels.  So, here is my list of fitness lies I used to believe, including, “Gym memberships are a waste of money!”

 

  1. Gym memberships are a waste of money

They totally aren’t!  They are completely worth every penny, and more.  I get FREE childcare.  EVERY.SINGLE.DAY if I want.  It’s like they are handing out sanity cards.  I have accountability, access to amazing facilities, and a ton of class options I LOVE that I could never have gotten on my own for free – hot yoga?  Amazing, but can’t do that at home.  TRX?  Body Pump?  Power Cardio?   All amazing classes that utilize extra equipment that you can bet I would have never spent my hard-earned money on to have at home.

  1. I will look like a fool and everyone will be judging me

Okay, you might look like a fool.  But you know what?  Everyone will be loving you.  Chances are, you will all look like fools together, and you will all be more confident and loving because of it.  In my group exercise classes, we celebrate looking like fools together.  We laugh.  We make sexy faces.  We pose.  We dance.  We have FUN.  If you are an introvert like me, those things might scare you a little bit.  But believe me, you won’t be alone, and it really isn’t scary.  It really is actually awesome.

  1. I’m too fat/weak to go to the gym

Um, that is the dumbest thing ever.   That is WHY you NEED the gym, and that is why EVERYONE ELSE is there too!!  I think I had this image in my mind that everyone at the gym would be perfectly sculpted and well-proportioned.  Well-proportioned doesn’t even have anything to do with going to the gym, but in my mind, all the bodies were perfect.  I was so wrong.  Sure, you will meet a few of those (but here’s a secret: they are normal people just like you).  But the majority will be perfectly imperfect, just like you.  Your instructor might even have a little extra around the belly area, just like you.  But you will all learn to work hard together, and get stronger and healthier together.  It really is beautiful.

  1. I’ll be alone and it will be awkward

I hope you’ve realized by now that the gym doesn’t have to be like this.  I never feel awkward at my gym.  On the contrary, it has taught me to be more secure and confident in the me God has created and beautifully designed.

  1. I’m being selfish by joining a gym and leaving my kids with total strangers

Being an active participant at my gym has been one of the BEST things I could have done for my kids.  They love the child watch area, where trained professionals care for and teach them in love while I work out.  They see momma making health a priority, and that is so important.  My gym offers kid’s classes, so they actually get to participate in things like Kid’s Yoga, and build healthy habits now!  There is also a splash pad and kid’s swimming pool at my gym, and this has contributed to momma’s sanity and unending fun for my kids more times than I can count.  Plus, our gym offers all sorts of sports and lessons for kiddos, which we get a discount on since we are members.  The gym is NOT just for me – it is for my entire family.

  1. The only reason to join a gym is to lose weight

That was my original reason for joining.  I have GOT to lose this extra baby weight, amirght?!  1.5 years later, I have lost ZERO pounds.  I’ve really started to believe that weight is ONLY a number, and doesn’t matter as much as I thought it did.  I have less fat, and more muscle, and I just try to ignore the scale.  But it has been more than that.  I work out to literally feel better – endorphins, anyone???  Yes, please!!!  I am healthier, more confident, and have more friendships because I go to the gym.

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Are you convinced yet??  If not, I have FREE guest passes!  😉  We love our Y!!!!

What are some fitness lies that YOU are working to overcome?

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Postpartum Depression & Loving Your Kids Intentionally

Postpartum Depression

When I was pregnant with my first child, I did everything I could to learn about how to have a healthy pregnancy, create an awesome birth experience, and take care of a newborn like a boss.  I was going to ROCK at this motherhood thing.  And for the most part, everything turned out well!  God gave me a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.  I had a beautiful, drug-free birth experience.  My daughter started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks old.

Of course, none of this could have happened without my mommy-tribe.  I knew then and I know now that mommy’s need to stick together and help each other through this journey called motherhood.  None of us know what we’re doing completely, but when we all help each other out, everything seems so much more doable.

One of the things I learned from my mommy-tribe (and partly from movies and TV) is that I would feel this unexplainable bond and rush of love as soon as I held my baby.  It was purely biological – I didn’t need to do anything!  Just sit back, and let the hormones do their job.  Skin to skin helps, so I was sure that was in my birth plan.  My doula was all over it.  I told you I was prepared!

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When baby girl was born, she was placed on my chest and I literally remember thinking, very matter-of-factly, “Okay, hormones.  Go!”  Nothing.  Actually, something happened – I started shaking all over uncontrollably.  I was terrified I would drop her, and wondered why no one was helping me hold her.  Then the nurses started pressing on my belly and I screamed for the first time of the whole experience!  Nobody tells you about the pain that happens AFTER the baby is out!  This was not the magical experience I had hoped for.  But we nursed, and eventually bonded fairly easily.  She was my world, but I will say it was not because of some magical rush I felt.  We just gradually loved each other more and more each passing hour.

15 months later, it was time for baby boy to be born!  I assumed everything would be the same – I mean, I was a pro by this time, right?  I skimmed a book once or twice, and moved on to the birth.  Rather than being a silent, worshipful experience like my first, I screamed in pain the whole time and little man came out FAST, with a swollen and purple face from shooting out like a rocket.  Cue the shaking and pushing on my belly.  UGH.

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But no worries, we would love each other just as deeply as I loved my first baby.  Sure, I wondered how my love could stretch that far, but my mommy-tribe ASSURED me that love multiplies – it doesn’t divide.  More hormonal magic.  So, my baby was here and again I waited.  “Okay, hormones.  Go!”  I waited.  And waited.  Sure, I would protect this baby with my life – he was my son!  But what a really felt?  He was stealing time from my baby girl.  Her babyhood was cut short by this surprise baby.  I mourned the time lost with my “perfect” daughter.  No magic, no hormonal fireworks.  I was just mad that this one didn’t sleep as well as the first.  He must be broken, because I am a pro.  Then, there was the guilt.  My love had divided – not multiplied.  Maybe I am broken too.  What was I thinking, desiring to have two children so close together?  I can’t do this!

By the grace of God, I didn’t spiral into the worst that postpartum depression can offer.  But I can see how it easily happens to so many AMAZING mommas.  I never admitted to any of the feelings I had, to anyone.  I was afraid I would get labeled a “bad mom” and be treated like a crazy person, with people giving me weird sympathetic looks.  Let me tell you something I have learned:  You CAN and SHOULD talk to someone if you are experiencing postpartum depression symptoms.  No, not everyone needs to know.  But there are people you can trust, people who will support you and lift you up, people who won’t look at you like you’re crazy.  They have been there.  And they will walk through it with you.

Four years later, I love my boy deeply.  I fought for it.  I knew skin to skin would help, so we did that when he was a baby.  I prayed.  I cried.  I never gave up.  Even though I didn’t spill my guts, I refused to cut myself off from friends and family.  Even now, I still hold and cuddle him INTENTIONALLY to feel my love hormones kick in.  I take him out on dates.  I listen to his never-ending rants about whatever pops up in his mind, because I want to learn what is in there, and I want him to never stop telling me what is in there.  It isn’t easy.  If I’m being truly honest, he’s still probably the one I have to love most intentionally.  Although, I think that has more to do with the craziness of a 4 year old boy than having anything to do with hormones anymore – he has ALL my love (all my kids do…it eventually DID multiply!).

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The moral of the story – things might not always turn out like you assumed they would.  That again proved to be true when baby #3 came along, but in a completely different way.  You might have to modify.  You might have to throw your plans out the window and stop trusting your own “wisdom” so much.  But praise be to God, we have a Savior to hold us and carry us through.  “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

What is one way YOU intentionally love your kids?

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Who is the Modified Mommy? …And why you should be one too

Hi, I’m Angie!  I am the modified mommy, and this is my blog.  Together, you and I will explore marriage, parenting, budgets, fitness, and homemaking.  Life has taught me that things don’t always turn out the way you thought they would.  Sometimes life throws you curveballs, and you have to learn to roll with it. But through it all, the most important lesson I’ve learned is that God’s plan is better than mine.  Every day is a blessing, and I’m learning to adapt and find joy in every part of life!

Before I got married, I pictured my future life as a stay-at-home mom, completely relying on my husband’s income to support our family.  I would happily follow a color-coded cleaning schedule, joyfully prepare home-cooked meals every night, and have a steaming hot love life to boot.  I was going to submit to my husband’s authority without question, lead a couple’s Bible Study with my leadership-gifted hubby, and DIY the heck out of every part of my life.  I told myself I would read lots of books, wake up early every day, and produce obedient, genius children who would never dream of throwing a fit at the grocery store.  *I’ll pause here so you can get a good laugh in.*

Boy, has my life been flipped upside down.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’ve learned that it’s okay not to fit into some stereotypical mold.  It’s freeing when you stop trying to be somebody else.  And I’ve learned a secret that I’ll let you in on…NOBODY fits that mold.  I’m not even sure who that “somebody” was that I was trying to be.  But I have a feeling we all have tried to be a certain “somebody” at one time or another.  God has beautifully created each one of us uniquely, and the diversity is extraordinary.  It’s beautiful.  So let’s celebrate it!

Does that mean I don’t clean, cook, or work hard in my family life?  Of course not!!  But I modify.  I am learning about my unique gifts from God, and modifying my original expectations to fit my natural leanings, desires, and callings from Him.  Over and over throughout different areas of my life, I hear my fitness instructor (and friend), Jessica, in my head: “You can modify, but you can’t quit!!!!”

For example, I always dreamed of the day I would send my kids off to the private school I attended, and then felt the calling to homeschool.  WHAT?!  I don’t like crafting or routines, and I’m terrible at follow-through.  “You can modify, but you can’t quit!!!”

Or when my third child was born and surprised us all by having one normal leg & one extremely short leg with a tiny two-toed foot.  We wondered if and how he could ever walk, run, and do the physical things our other kids enjoyed so much.  He has taught us over and over, “You can modify, but you can’t quit!!!”

So, here we are.  Adjusting when we need to, but not giving up.  There is so much freedom in this, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned as I’ve “broken the rules” over and over again!

Need to provide budget-friendly and healthy meals for your family, but hate to cook?  …Modify; don’t quit.

Love fresh food and flowers, but have a brown thumb?  …Modify; don’t quit.

Have early-rising kids, but function better as a night owl yourself?  …Modify; don’t give up!

 

God bless you, and I appreciate you following along through this journey!  I hope you will be blessed beyond measure!

What is something YOU would like to modify in your life?

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